Saturday, September 24, 2011

Blood Circle

Boys and knives are a dangerous combination. When a hundred rambunctious young boys descend upon scout camp, all looking to ‘whittle’, managing pocketknife safety is critical. Safety however, is not what boys want to talk about.

How about a Blood Circle?

Oh yes – the boys want to talk about that.

When my eight-year-old son came home excited about his blood circle, I put my younger daughter behind me for safety. Was he planning on drawing one on his little sister? I scanned his arms for scrapes and bandages.

When he saw my reaction, my son said, “Maybe it should have been ‘Safety Circle’ Mom.”

Hmm… ‘safety’ sounded generic, politically correct and parental.

“Look Mom.” He held his closed pocketknife in an outstretched arm. Turning around slowly, his arm traced a radius around his body. “This is my Blood Circle. No one is allowed inside my Blood Circle while I’m whittling, carving, or anything.”

As a writer, I have to avoid the safety circle. But a blood circle – that I can use.
This two-word description is immediately colorful, evocative, and memorable.

As a mom, I wondered if it was appropriate. Then I watched as it helped change my childrens’ behavior. After hearing blood circle, my son was very responsible with his pocketknife. My five-year-old backed up and carefully avoided the ‘knife danger zone.’

I’ll be looking for a place to use ‘blood circle’ in my stories, and I’ll use it as a measuring stick for my own descriptions.

What are some of your favorite and most memorable descriptions?


  1. I love picking up memorable descriptions - one of the neighborhood kids once called her crying baby sister a "bawl baby" instead of a cry baby. Loved it.

    Or how about "butterscotch sun"
    for a glowing patch of sunlight?

  2. Ooh -- very nice. Kids are often coming out with great things like that, and I have to get better at keeping track. The latest I've heard is my child is only 'one-mile tired', i.e., not at all.

  3. I just spent a weekend with a couple thousand teenagers dressed in suits at the Yale Debate Tournament. But I'm not giving up anything I heard. I've tucked it all away to use at a later date.

    One thing I do have to say -- kids are really, really funny. Especially kids who love language. They always look for clever ways to describe anything.

    And BTW -- brag alert -- my son semi-finaled in two events.

  4. I look forward to reading it when you write a piece that uses that teen language-- and I don't blame you for wanting to keep those goodies for the right time! Congrats to your son!

  5. My boys use the expression, "You are such a fail," or "That is such a fail," a lot...mostly to each other. It's only one example of new twists on familiar phrases I keep hearing from them. They always tickle me. (The phrases, not the kids!)